How to Raise Healthy (and Happy) Chicks: Part 1 Food and Water


So, you’ve decided to keep chickens and want to raise them from chicks.  You’re probably wondering “how do I do this?  What kind of care do they need and how much space do they require?”  Well, you’ve come to the right place!  In this 5-part article series, we will discuss what chicks need to survive and thrive as well as just how much room you need to dedicate to these adorable chirping balls of fluff!  So, let’s start with what preparations you should take when you’re expecting (chicks, that is)!

Preparing for the Arrival of Your Chicks

While chickens can be pretty resilient, chicks are very delicate and must be treated with a great amount of care.  It is because of this fact that it is HIGHLY recommended that you have everything you need for their base care and their area set up prior to their arrival (I personally set up everything except food and water the evening before they arrive).  The basic care items you need are chick starter and grower food, water, bedding, a heating source, and a brooder.  I know, this is a lot of information, but as stated before, I will break it down into a series of articles to make this less intimidating.  Let’s take a look at the most basic thing all living creatures need: food and water.

Food and Water

When it comes to chick feed, you do have a couple of different options.  There is medicated crumble, which offers the chicks a boost of immunity towards coccidiosis, or non-medicated crumble, which is the same feed just without Amprolium (a coccidiostat) in it.  It is up to you to determine which would be best for your flock, however, if your chicks have been vaccinated for coccidiosis, it is not recommended to feed them medicated crumble as this will make the vaccine null.  Also, if you do decide to provide treats to your chicks, it is recommended to wait until they are at least two weeks old.  Make sure these are high-protein treats, such as mealworms or boiled eggs, as calcium is toxic to chicks below eighteen weeks of age.  Also, be aware, should you choose to feed treats to your chicks, you will need to provide chick grit to them (this is smaller than regular grit) to aid in the digestion of more complicated foods.

You will also need to provide water at room temperature for about eight weeks in a shallow waterer that has either marbles or pebbles in it (I like these feeders and waterers for young chicks).  Water will need to be changed several times a day to keep it clear of debris.  You can also gradually elevate the waterer to try to keep some of the debris out, just be careful not to make it too high so that your chicks can reach it.  Until chicks feather out, they will have difficulty regulating their body temperature and cold water could send them into shock, potentially resulting in death.  Placing marbles or pebbles in the waterer also prevents chicks from drowning, as they tend to fall asleep during any activity-including drinking.  For the first few days of their lives, up to a week, I personally like to give my chicks magic water (more info and recipe here) to give them a little boost.  This is strictly a preference, so it will be up to you to decide if magic water is right for you and your flock.  If you do decide to provide magic water, be sure to offer plain water alongside it, as some chicks do not like the taste and will thirst to death rather than drink it.  Keep in mind, how many chicks you have will directly affect how many waterers and feeders you need.  I personally recommend one of each per six chicks, at least with the ones I’ve outlined above.


In this article, we discussed feed options and water, which are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preparing and caring for your new chicks.  For other information and tips regarding chick care, check out the other articles in this series simply by clicking on the button below.


Leave a comment